Hi Folks! Talk about a beacon of hope. A Hollywood ending! Success! Get this:
As you may recall, a few years back, a mom from small-town Mississippi wrote to this blog in a quandry. After teaching her 10-year-old son the route to soccer, she’d let him walk there — less than a mile — by himself. On that first time out, a cop picked him up, scolded it wasn’t safe, and tracked down the mom. He told her he’d received “hundreds” of calls to 911 about the boy and that he could book her for “child endangerment.”
That mom was Lori LeVar Pierce, and that day marked a turning point. Instead of cowering in fear, she called the chief of police and asked if the town was really so dangerous a kid couldn’t walk to soccer. The chief said it was very safe and apologized for the cop’s actions. But mere facts did not calm the local paper. As it wrote in an editorial:
Once upon a time, decades ago, mothers were able to let their elementary-aged children roam free and alone.
While many, including us, look upon this halcyon time with fondness and a longing for its return, the fact remains that things are different now. The days of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and “Leave it to Beaver” are gone.
Yeah, in large part because fearmongering media bashed them over the head.
But some people have decided not to listen to doomsday blathering anymore. Lori, for instance, became twice as determined to have her kids play outside after the cop incident, and thus saw for herself what her town really lacked. Sidewalks! She became an activist and now there are sidewalks all around town, thanks to her.
But that’s not all. As of last week, even the local PAPER is changing! Check out this Jan. 25 editorial:
…we, as a community, need to use more discretion when calling 911. It seems we’ve all gotten paranoid.
If there are teenagers you don’t know walking down the street, they might just be kids taking a stroll. And odds are, if you spend much time outside or looking out of the window, you’re going to see an unfamiliar car.
Pay attention. Look out for yourself and your neighbors. But don’t always rush to call the law.
We should feel safe in our own neighborhoods, and the police play a major role in that. But they shouldn’t have to console us every time we have unsubstantiated fears. It wastes their time and our money.
Don’t give in to unsubstantiated fears? Expect to see children strolling down the street? Get to know your neighbors? Darned if Columbus, Mississippi isn’t going…Free-Range!
If a town that told its citizens “This isn’t Mayberry” back in 2009 is telling them that kids can and should be walking down the street in 2012, I gotta say: Columbus, you rock! It takes courage to reject fear. So hi from your new friend in New York City, and hi also to Lori, who got the ball rolling…and the kids outside. — Lenore
Filed under: Creating Community, GOOD News, Uncategorized, Walk to School / Stay Home Alone / Wait in Car | Tagged: change, cops, editorial, newspaper, paranoia, parents, police, soccer, walk to school | 40 Comments »